Psychiatry & Psychology--General/paranoid delusions

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Question
Dear Dr. Elmore,

I am very concerned about my mother's mental health, and don't know what to do in order to get her to get help from a psychologist or psychiatrist.

My mother has been suffering from paranoid delusions for years, insisting that her neighbors are spying on her, climbing on her roof, breaking into her house when she is not there, and other similar claims. This has happened in at least 10 different apartments, which she kept moving because of repeated [non-violent] confrontations with neighbors. We recently bought her a house, and she is now confronting the neighbors about various implausible claims, and trying to get a restraining order against them.

Any attempt to suggest that she may be misinterpreting noises and such is met with aggression and confrontation. The very notion of seeing a psychiatrist will meet utter refusal and hurt our relationship. She is otherwise a sweet, loving, caring mother and grandmother, 55, divorced and living on her own in Los Angeles.

How do I get her to get psychiatric or psychological help when she refuses to accept that she has any psychological problem and is convinced that her persecutory delusions are real?

Thank you for your help
David

Answer
David,

Thank you for your caring and thoughtful letter.

You are correct in surmising that is almost impossible to get a paranoid schizophrenic person to admit that they are having psychotic delusions.  The only opportunity that would ever arise is if you happened to be with her the moment one of her pursuits of this disordered thinking turned out to be obviously false, then you could kindly suggest she has been doing a lot of that thing lately and it concerns you.

If this unlikely circumstance does not take place, please try to find a State social services/mental health/older adults agency to advise you.  

If you feel your mother's paranoia presents a danger to her, you may be able to arrange an assessment through such an agency, and the staff of these organizations will have people with the special knowledge to help you see that you mother receives the professional attention she needs.  

If that does not work, or just alternatively,  find a local hospital with a Geriatric Medicine Department and make an appointment to discuss your mom with someone there.

Best of luck and I hope your Mom realizes what a good son you have been to her,

Dr. Andrew Elmore

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D.

Expertise

I can answer questions about: Stress. Headaches. Stress-related Disorders. Anxiety/Panic Disorder. Depression. Psychopathology. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Personal Problem Solving. Life in General. Relationships: Love, Friendship, Business Partner, Coworker, Family,Child/Parent. What makes us tick. The use of psycho-pharmacological agents in combination with psychological treatment. How to deal with evil people in your life. How to improve your outlook under duress. How to control stress. How to control mood. How to control headaches. I cannot answer: Questions about Eating Disorders. Questions about computers.

Experience

30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.

Organizations
American Psychological Association. Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. New York Academy of Sciences.

Publications
The journal, Psychophysiology. The book, Expanding Dimensions of Consciousness. The journal, Headache. The journal, Biofeedback and Self-Regulation. The journal Psychiatry Digest. The book, The TMJ Book. The book, Dental Phobia. The network, CNN. Parade Magazine. The newspaper, Newsday. The Manhattan TV station, WCBS. The national news program, The CBS Evening News. The newspaper, The New York Post. The national TV program, The Phil Donohue Show. The magazine, The New Yorker. The magazine, Glamor. The magazine, Redbook. The magazine, Health. The magazine, Bottom Line Personal. Web MD. The website, Healthology. The magazine, Newsweek.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, 1979. B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.

Awards and Honors
Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, First, Second and Third Editions, 1997-2000. Appointed to the Training Faculty of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA), 1993. Senior Fellow BCIA. New York Academy of Sciences, 1987. Who’s Who in the East, 1983-present. Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, First Edition. Citation Paper Author. Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1980. Biofeedback Society of America Scholar, 1979. Co-author, USVA Grant, “Variables Affecting the Experience of Pain in Migraine,” USVA Medical Center, Northport, New York, 1977-1979. Biomedical Research Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 1978. NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship, 1976. BA, Magna cum laude, with Honors in Psychology, 1974. Danforth Fellowship Nominee, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1973.

Past/Present Clients
Most of my clients are my private patients. However I have provided many seminars, lectures and workshops for: Columbia University. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum of Natural History. The UJA Federation. The university, CW Post. The College of New Rochelle. Equinox Fitness. Travelers Insurance. AutoOne Insurance. Chubb Insurance. Metropolitan Life. Allstate Insurance. State Farm Insurance. Encompass Insurance. The public relations firm, Porter Novelli. The investment firm, Capital Re:. The Estee Lauder corporation. The law firm of Irwin Abrams. The National Insurance Crime Bureau. GEICO Insruance. Beth Israel Hospital.

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